I’ve been drinking too much. Or too often. Either way, this hangover is telling me I need to cool it. This hangover is also suggesting a Bloody Mary.

Starting with a weekend jaunt to New York and culminating with last night’s police assistance to find my iPhone right where I left it (in the Uber), I’ve been ping ponging to events that include maybe one too many drinks in formalwear. Bernie and I have also been doing this low carb thing, so although we look fabulous, we have all of the tolerance of a sophomore at a field party.

It’s Gala Season, y’all. And when your dearest friend has been planning an event for, like, a year… and then 800 people attend and donate nearly $200K to champion homeless children, that’s cause for some school night celebratory drinking! So that’s what we did. And with a renewed devotion to the Home for Little Wanderers and vows to be better, more generous humans we toasted and clinked and gibber gabbered until my best babysitter was texting, “um… ETA?”

Tom was kind enough not to make me do babysitter math in my wine-infused, iPhone-less stupor. And really, not even the vat of Chardonnay I drank last night left me feeling as adrift as losing my phone. Thankfully, the Uber driver answered my 27th call this morning and just returned it to me—with the blank check, ID, and credit cards untouched. I gave him $100, five stars for his Uber rating, and a hug (which might have boosted mine).

When we were newly marrieds, Bernie lost his money clip… twice. Each time, it was right before the holidays and canceling the credit cards meant an unpredictable batch of online Christmas purchases was, too. His absent-mindedness had less to do with wine, and everything to do busyness. Both times, losing his money clip was a little nudge from The Universe telling us that we were trying to do too much all at once, forcing us to sit down, retrace steps, and spend umpteen on hold hours with customer service to protect our checking account from criminals. To this day, whenever I misplace something important, I take an inventory of the calendar items that seem so necessary, but aren’t.

So, I hear you, Universe. “No more mid-week drinking!” might be a hollow promise for a Thursday afternoon, especially after you returned my phone and valuables. And I should have learned this lesson with Ran so many summers ago when I realized I didn’t actually have the stamina to celebrate with gallons of Prosecco every time I greeted an old friend with my new hair. Even Dad and I made a hungover vow nearly twenty years ago that No Wine Shall Be Uncorked After 3am. Of course the corollary rule is that Uncorked Wine Must Be Finished, and the Stocktons are better known for that one.

Because Graduation Cere-mania follows closely on the heels of Gala-palooza, I’m thinking Moderation needs to be a bigger part of my party persona. Or I’m going to need one of you to whip up some Bloody Marys. Extra horseradish.


Potty Mouth Christmas

Those of you who include me in your Facebook feeds might occasionally wish you didn’t. But if we’re friends (in the world webby ether or of a fleshier variety), you know that the Christmas Market at the Church of the Redeemer has mercifully and finally come to an end. As the Church Service League President this year, it was my job to interrupt your BuzzFeed shares, What Color Is Your Animal Spirit?, and Santa’s lap pics with my Shop for Jesus alerts. Organizing the yearly fundraiser is truly an honor, but in the 11th hour, it feels more like that dream where you’ve forgotten to go to class all semester and here’s the final exam.

Churchy do-gooding is mostly fun; and the entire week was peppered with the Christmassy smells of wreaths and greens, giggles between good friends, and moments when the Holy Spirit is tangibly flowing all over the garland-draped church. But the rather awesome responsibility of raising money loomed… and that made me want to hurl my chicken and mushrooms all over the place.

Terrified that the generous people who had donated houses and family jewels and lavish parties to our live auction would be rewarded with a quiet room of un-bidding church folk, I couldn’t push anything past my pylorus. I recently raved about people who have the Godly gift of inspiring generosity in others, baffled by the criticism of any sort of philanthropy. Though I thrive in the busyness of passion-fueled volunteerism, asking people for money will always be awkward for me. Bernie keeps reminding me that this aspect of charity work isn’t really one of my keener skills. And because it makes me physically ill, he’s probably right.

What my stomach always forgets is that this annual event is a team effort coordinated by really lovely souls and presented to a parish hall brimming with people who want to be part of something great and good. Nearly all of the money we raise is channeled to outreach efforts, and results in real improvements at our sister Church, our food pantries, care for our community’s elders, even our West African brothers and sisters afflicted with deadly Ebola. It’s a night to think about others, and that’s what everyone does, and there’s really no reason to get all pukey.

Floating on that isn’t-everyone-and-everything-just-wonderful feeling that accompanies a weekend of Christian fellowship, I returned my attention to my own home and hearth, sorely neglected during Christmas Market week. The halls were un-decked. The cupboard was bare. The checking account was overdrawn. Sagging pumpkins at the doorstep, half-unpacked clothes from Thanksgiving travels, and not a single photo in any of our cameras or iThings worthy of a holiday card quickly froze all those floaty feelings and grumpy, potty-mouth mommy delivered chastened, weepy children to the bus stop yesterday.

Yelling at the boys to “Fucking smile! We’re going to miss the goddamn bus!” in order to snap the Christmas photo before school doesn’t align terribly well with the spirit of the season. Zealot Sister wisely counseled that I should avoid unimportant activities that sap the joy out of the next two weeks. And after a deep breath and a pot of coffee, the necessity of a perfect picture or pumpkin-free stoops seems… stupid. So does cursing at small children, in spite of the breadth of their early morning assholery.

With a better attitude and entire platter of French toast, I greeted two happy little guys this morning who couldn’t wait to tell me about their ham radio exam. After umpteen classes and hundreds of sample questions, my boys passed the test and have earned operating privileges for vintage communication. Sometimes I wonder if we should install lockers in the home so my kids can practice escaping them. But most times, these boys delight and amuse me and I can go entire weeks without wanting to backhand them (kidding) or demonstrating the correct context for bad words in angry sentences (confessing). Fa la la la la… la la la la.

I’m going to slow down, friends. Drink the entire pot of coffee. Send the blurry Christmas photo… after the New Year. Watch “Love, Actually” over and over and over. Order takeout. Leave gigantic tips for the wait staff wherever I go. Pop the Prosecco and read every holiday letter enclosure. The King is coming whether I pitch the pumpkins or not. And though my home and hearth may not be ready, it’s pretty important that my heart is.

Fa la la la la… la la la la.

The best plot line in the movie...

The best plot line in the movie…